Walk Like a Korean

A well known ‘problem’ foreigners have in Korea is predicting at what speed and in which direction a Korean is going to walk near you on the street. They are notoriously erratic in their travel from A to B and one must always be wary. I have become mostly numb to this specific issue (except for the occasional krazy who walks AT me at Home Plus).* But that is because all my anger is used up in another daily Korea walking conflict: Getting from Office to Cafeteria.

See, this can never happen in a normal manner and it never ceases to enrage me. I’ve wanted to write about these ten minutes for a long time because it is a daily fight. But it makes me so mad that I can actually feel my blood pressure rise and I don’t know how to write it nicely. The best I can do is present the situation factually and reflect on each part. Continue reading

Schooled

When one spends everyday at school with students who still don’t know how to ask to use the bathroom or employ the past tense of ‘go’, it is sometimes easy to forget that these kids are actually pretty smart. Today I was reminded of their intelligence, though, when they tried to tell me a joke and I was the reh-tard who couldn’t understand because I only know nine words in Korean.

First, they were trying to get me to agree that I know what “stwaaaws” is. I insisted that I do not, in fact, have any clue in the freakin world what “stwaaaws”, and so they reenacted a great battle scene with swords and head chopping. I thought, okay “stwaaaws” is “swords”. They were happy I had identified their miming as weapon-wielding, but then indicated that “stwaaaws” is a movie.

…Sword in the Stone???

No.

I don’t know what finally gave it away after four more minutes of their desperate attempts to inform me, but someone must have muttered “Skywalker” or “Han Solo” or something, so I eventually hollered, “STAR WARS!!! YES I KNOW STAR WARS! YES! I AM AMERICAN DAMN IT,” and everyone was excited and I was relieved that the game was over.

But it wasn’t. There was another battle reenactment, this time with lightsabers, obviously, and mad lightsaber sound effects.

Girl Student: Chawwohhhhngngng!

Boy Student: Teacher! Chwwwwooongngngg!

Girl Student: Teacher, what color rightsaber?

Me: Err…um…green? And…red? And…blue? Maybe?

Them: No teacher!

Me (more defensive confident): Um, yeah-huh guys.

Them: No! Rightsaber oranchee! HAHAHA!  Chwwoongngng Chwwoongng 주황!! 주황!! HAHAHA!

I stood there completely bewildered (what the hell is so hilarious?) while my coteacher laughed and asked, “Do you get it?” I scowled and waited for the explanation. (This conversation had been going on for like 9 minutes).

주황 is ‘orange’ in Korean. And it is also phonetically pronounced “choohwang”. Thus, “rightsabers are oranchee”.

Clever. Clever indeed.

Cloudy with a Chance of Dying

Erin wrote about it the other day and I’ve been whining about it on Facebook to anyone who will listen all week. It’s hot. And humid. And miserable. As a result, I’m one drop of sweat away from a breakdown. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every conversation I’ve had this week has revolved around how hot and wet and straight up pissed off I am.  I really almost lost it yesterday afternoon when I walked by my principal’s office and realized that all his windows were closed because he is the only one in school allowed to have the air conditioner on. I dare him to look at me today.

To spare you the pain of a whole new ranty blog post about it (it is seriously the only thing I can think or talk or write about, I’m sorry), I’ve reduced my daily gchats to a “word cloud” that shows exactly how climate-centric my life has been in the last ten days. August 26th, where are you??

Heat Stroke

Humans are warm-blooded, maintaining a near-constant body temperature. Thermoregulation is an important aspect of human homeostasis …. High temperatures pose serious stresses for the human body, placing it in great danger of injury or even death. In order to deal with these climatic conditions, humans have developed physiologic and cultural modes of adaptation. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

I would like state for the record that Korea has not made any physiologic or cultural adaptations. They are a people willing to accept discomfort.

But I am an American.

So I do not accept discomfort.

So I am on the brink of a sweaty, dehydrated breakdown.

Have you ever gone to the zoo during the summer? Have you ever checked out the polar bears while you were there? Know how depressing and crabby they look because they’re very obviously in the wrong climate? I am that crabby polar bear.

Heat makes you do crazy things

This is one of those horrible times when your spoiled middle class  American-ness gets thrown in your face. “Pardon me sir, but your country is not chilled enough for me to properly enjoy my champagne and caviar and money.  See to it tout suite, my good man.” What can I say? I have led a comfortable, dry existence prior to this, and I would like to continue on that less-sweaty path.

Like any developed nation worth its salt, everywhere is air conditioned in Korea. (Please do not get on my back about the environmental ramifications of this. I will tear off the widest part of you and use it to fan myself. I AMHOT.) But somehow, the Republic of Korea has not deemed June worthy of turning on said AC. That means my bus, full of unwashed high school boys, smells like unwashed high school boys.  Coffee shops are stuffy, ATM bank alcoves are nearly unbearable, going outside in the damp, jungley heat will make you pray for death.

I was willing to overlook this heat intolerance as a problem limited to my foreignness. I simply not used to it and do not understand, like I didn’t understand wearing coats indoors during the winter.

But today, drowning in my own useless sweat, my classes of NATIVE KOREAN CHILDREN did nothing but bleat the two relevant words they know: teacher, hot, teacher, hot, hot, hot, HOT, HOTT, TEACHERRRRR.

So much unnecessary suffering.

Enlightened

Well, I’ve been walking past an ad for this:

Careful, this might kill you.

for a few months now. Looking at it has made me cringe many times. I simply could not fathom what it was, and hanging in a Lotteria window, I was extra afraid. Duk, cornflakes, beans..milk…? Whaaatttt? Continue reading

On Hydration **UPDATE**

Remember when I wrote about drinking water and how Koreans don’t really do it? And I wanted to show everyone that commercial with the slapping and the water that advertises special water pills to make your skin nice? Thanks to Erin I found it for you. You’re welcome.

Bloodsucking Shiteaters

Upon arrival to Korea I was introduced to some grody-ass toilets that triggered this epic rantalysis. Little did I know then the true horrors that were in store for me every time I step into a 화장실. At this point bathroom bitching is so yesterday, but you guys, this last week it has a reached a new level of filthy disgusting awfulness.

why hello! sit down on me!

The temperatures are getting higher and the humidity is climbing its ever oppresive way to unbearable and so the bathrooms have mutated from frigid, dirty puddles of horror to damp, malodorous bogs of all that is nasty and vile in this world. There’s an inch of water on the floor, toilet paper strewn about, dirty mops hanging out in the wash basin. Everything is wet; it can be best described as “swampy”. I would be absolutely livid if I were a parent and discovered that my child played unsupervised in Satan’s rectum. I just can’t understand how any part of the school is allowed to exist in such an unsanitary state. I mean, isn’t this how disease is born and spread? Hasn’t Korea heard of the Middle Ages? What is everyone thinking!? Continue reading